Author Topic: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!  (Read 11261 times)

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Offline Squire_Kit

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Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« on: February 23, 2010, 11:22:35 PM »
Salutations all!

(I'm not sure as to whether this topic should be in Sewing or Garbing, so if I put this in this the wrong place, mods, I do apologise.)

I am looking to create a custom archer's costume for a few events, including my local renaissance festival. However, I am as green as they come when it comes to sewing. I have the curse of being able to draw designs til the cows come home, but have all thumbs that can't sew in a straight line! The costume itself belongs to a character named Shannan from Shawn Lamb's novel, Allon.

I designed the costume to be based roughly in the renaissance period, but with a fantasy aspect as well as Allon is a fantasy world not unlike Middle Earth. For a quick background, Shannan lives in the forest of Dorgirith. She is carefully hidden away from anyone so stealth and ease of movement in her clothes would be essential. However, she and her mentor do operate out of a cave so her equipment (such as her bow) would be short range. As such I have designed the costume to have nothing dangling off of it as not to deter movement as well as keeping things in a utilitarian fashion. Now here comes the part I need help with (and any help would be enormously appreciated!). Here is the costume, along with a few of Shannan's accessories...


It's detachable and rests underneath the jerkin with a beaked hood (as an eagle is one of her companions) ala Raven (Teen Titans), the Sorceress (He-man), or Altair (Assassin's Creed). However, I'm not sure how to go about constructing this. I've gathered a few tutorials from guys who have done the Assassin's Creed hood, but they tend to sew it like a gorget rather than a separate piece. Would it be possible to do a cowl that would rest beneath the straps of the jerkin without shifting about?


The hardest part of the whole shebang! I don't even know where to begin on this one. It's all one piece (all the lines are seam lines) with heavy lacing in the middle (so it would go one like a vest). The longer flaps on the bottom are only on the sides to protect the hips. Fabric-wise I'm wanting to go with leather, preferably a soft, supple leather. But I'd love to hear some opinions on that. The flowing sleeves are purely for aesthetic purposes and are attached to the jerkin itself. Still debating on what kind of fabric to use for them. Suggestions?


Still working on designing it. But it would be simple compared to the rest of the costume. For the fabric I want to go with something breathable, like a cotton or linen blend. It would be long-sleeved, but closely fitted and tapered at the bottom hem (so it would be easier to tuck into trousers). Any suggestions on a good collar to go under the jerkin & cowl?


Basic pant pattern. Though my questions here would be, one, what type of fastenings would be most suitable for a forester/archer? (my first thought was lacing, but I find that the lacing keeps coming undone.) Band? Buttons? Toggle? etc. And two, what kind of fabric would be lightweight and breathable, but durable enough to be able to move through the brush of a forest?


I like the two-belt approach (forgive me, I don't know what the proper term would be for two overlapping belts.). It is one piece made to look like two belts, or at least two pieces. The larger piece goes around the back and sides like a waistband while the middle belt ties/clasps in the middle of the body. I am lost on how to make this though.

Quiver- I'm looking at more of a collapsable quiver like the ones the Rangers of Ithilien carry in Lord of the Rings vs. the standard stiff tube.

Arrows - I'll be hand-fletching them. Oh boy!

Bow - I'm still researching it, but I'm fairly settled on trying to make a short self bow.

Hunting knife

As drawn on the bottom of the page. I like the idea of a bone handle on the knife. Does anyone know of a way to create one or in this case, would it be better to buy one from a smith?


decently sized pouch for keeping small dried meats and berries as well as a place for a oil cloth to hang. Would there be a particular pouch to use for this sort of thing or would a standard belt pouch work?

Boots - I'm leaning most towards boots similar to that of Faramir from Lord of the Rings. I think I'll just have to settle for buying these.


I know what they look like roughly, but what are they made out of? Hide? Cloth?

And most of all, for this whole entire costume I'll be distressing it! So there's no need for it to be pretty. :)

I thank you for reading through this and as I said before, any help would be greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 09:31:57 AM by Squire_Kit »

Offline Tammy

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 01:50:44 AM »
I love your drawings and complete descriptions!! I've not read the books, so I'm not familiar with the character.

I'm planning a new character involved in archery as as I was looking for inspiration I came upon this...

The jerkin seems very I thought I'd share in case it could help you.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 10:48:08 PM by Tammy »
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Offline Squire_Kit

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 08:08:03 AM »
That is actually the jerkin I pulled from. I've been trying to locate the artist who painted that picture as to give credit, but I can't find him/her. I've made a couple modifications, though not many, as the jerkin stands by itself as a great piece. I believe the one in the painting goes all the way around the back whereas mine only has flaps on the side to cover the side of the hips. I also can't tell what the top would look like as it's covered by a cloak, so I designed it to be a tank-top like collar so it can be pulled over like a vest. (Mine will also be a different colour).

But good eyes Tammy! :)

Offline Lady Kathleen of Olmsted

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 10:16:29 AM »
Great idea!!

I can picture the the Doublet part in an Ultra Suede in a dark brown, earthy green, even black. The leggings/pants in a darer tan shade, with the shirt in a darker cream shade or a light olive green. The accessories would loook great in natural leathers or suedes. That would give the ensemble more of a woodsy feel to it.

Good luck!!!
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Offline crazyrennie

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 11:15:12 AM »
Hi there!
Jerkin-Just a thought for you-you could use a deer or elk hide,both are strong yet supple,takes practice to sew them though.

Pants-a duckcloth works well for me(I didn't think it would breathe as well as it does)

Knife-Again opinion smith would probably be best bet

Wineskin-normally made of leather

Offline gem

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 11:27:27 AM »
Squire Kit!!  You're back!!  :D

(Ok, no advice on the costume, just wanted to say how great it is to see you again!)

Offline BamaWoodsman

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2010, 01:23:44 PM »
I don't have much advice to offer but I'll try to help a little.

On the knife, if you want to try to make it yourself, check out they have a blade similar to your drawing that you could experiment with various handle materials.

On the leather piece,  if you decide you want to have somebody make it for you, I can whole heartily recommend Gary at Crimson Chain. I've dealt with him on multiple occasions and have several pieces from him that are extremely soft leather and very comfortable to wear even on the hottest days and TnRF or GaRF. They have a large location at GaRF and generally have about a 3-6wk turn around on custom pieces.  Their web site is down but I can get in touch with him easily if you are interested in that route.

I'll also encourage you to come down to GaRF when it starts in April, I should be there nearly every weekend except for when I'm at TnRF, and would be happy to introduce you to Gary and Kit and send you on into the world of leather obsession.  ;D

Offline Adriana Rose

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2010, 05:11:55 PM »
For the knife, go to the magical world of ebay lol.
Also the drinking skin they are all over the place at faires or try ebay for that as well

The shirt, I would go with a simple yoke shirt. There are patterns from simplicty that are fairly easy to use.

The cowl you might be able to attach the hood it to the collar of the jerkin with some loops or buttons for easy use. It would work or at least it does in my head lol.

The trousers I bet that you could make them with an elastic waist that way there is no fuss with the drawstring.

hope that helps keep us posted on the progress this is going to be a very cool costume when you are done!

Offline Pascal

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2010, 07:48:48 AM »
Regarding the cowl (and this could just be because of the lousy one I made), I do find that it "rides up" and bunches after enough head and body movement.  A heavier material (but then it wouldn't sit right -- unless maybe it were wool), or maybe a heavy band at the bottom (leather?) might help -- as might something a little extra wide so it won't ride up your shoulders.  The idea about buttons or some other hidden tie might not be bad to keep in mind.

Offline Elennare

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2010, 11:55:02 AM »
LOVE the design!  And you draw really well. :)

I have 2 thoughts for you, on it, since you asked for help.

1) wine skin.  Do you intend for it to actually hold liquid?  If so, I would suggest looking into buying one.  Most camping stores carry some version of them, for not too much, and they look pretty good.  You will probably want to cover the sports bottle top on it, but that wouldn't be too hard.  The thing you'd have to keep in mind if you tried to make it is: how to seal the sewing holes.  Or, what would you use for a bladder inside it if you don't want to try to seal the holes.  If you don't want to actually use it, none of those are an issue.

2)  On the jerkin, the flaps on the hips.  If you don't make it like a "skirt" across the back (which you said you don't want to do), I would recommend having the flaps meet at the center back rather than leave a gap.  Otherwise you may end up with the thing having really funky lines and putting emphasis on places you don't want it.  You don't have a picture of what you want the back to look like, so this may be your intention already.

...And now that I've typed all of that, I had another thought.  Take a look at patterns, either from some historical company, or the "Big 3" and see if you see anything that is along the lines of what you're looking to make.  That can give you a great starting point for how to make it, and there are lots of people here you can ask for help on modifying it into exactly what you want.

Have fun!  :)
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Offline Squire_Kit

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2010, 02:54:24 PM »
Thanks so much for all of your responses.

I edited my first post this morning to include closer views of each of the pieces since the details in the first picture are hard to see.

Lady Kathleen - (Your name makes me smile. My middle name is Kathleen.  :)) Ironically what you described is almost exactly the colours I've got so far. I've start to amass fabrics and various Goodwill pieces to cut up and they all fall within those colours scheme (although we do have a lot more reddish brown and cream leathers. However, we'll be dying them as well).

Crazy Rennie - That is a good suggestion for the jerkin material. I'll keep an eye out for it. I've heard the "duckcloth" thrown around alot in reference to pants fabric, but what is it exactly?

Hi Gem! Thanks for the welcome! I'll do my best to bring my peasant-mayheming ways back to the forums.  ;D

Bama Woodsman - I would definitely be interested in conversing with Gary just to get an idea of what sort of pricing would go into a leather piece like my jerkin. (I would imagine it'll be a pretty penny...) I don't know if I'll be able to make it down to Georgia, but I am in Tennessee, so I will most certainly be at the TNRF.

Adriana Rose - Aye, I haven't even begun to hit ebay yet. I figured I would start by designing the costume, put the word out here, ask friends if they have anything I could use, then hit the fabric stores/Goodwill. (It's amazing how much leather you can get out of a men's XL coat for a small gal. :) )

For the shirt, I think I may have found a good one at Goodwill yesterday. It's not exactly what I had in mind, but it still has a rustic, unsophisticated feel to it. What do you [all] think?

Can you believe the label says 'XS from Gap'?!

I also found a pair of boots that may work (again, they're not exactly what I was going for. But seeing as shoes are some of the hardest things to get custom, I think I'll have to work with what I can get). I'm working on trying to think of how I can cover up the zipper. Perhaps putting a semi-matching suede strip running from the bottom of the boot to the top would work? I'm not sure....I'm also thinking of tying twine around the width of the shoes in various places to cut down on the bulk of it.

Pascal - Thanks for the advice. I've jotted it down in my notes. :)

Elennare - Thanks so much! For the wineskin, at this point, it's just for show. However, I'm always looking to make things as authentic as possible (within budget, of course).

Honestly, I hadn't thought through fully what the back would look like. So your suggestion is quite helpful.

Offline Genievea Brookstone

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2010, 03:59:01 PM »
From seeing your drawing and then seeing your photo, its not very hard to see the garb you drew on you! 

Sorry I have no suggestions, just the comment  :D
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Offline Niennis

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2010, 05:23:08 PM »
What a great find! And look how cute you are :D
It has a very rennie look to it, it almost looks like cloth mail.
Hey, why not?

Offline RSLeask

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2010, 06:07:37 PM »
It's definitely hard to do cowl as one of the base pieces of a costume, not an overpiece.  Personally, though, I wouldn't necessarily do it as a separate piece... or at least, a piece of its own (unless you're just looking for ease of making).  You could possibly do one of two things... either a half shirt, or a sleeveless shirt, which should cut down on the shifting of the cowl greatly.  I'd chance to say as a sleeveless shirt, given the outfit and requirements (most of the base would still be hidden beneath the jerkin anyway).  Depending on things, you could even wear it beneath the base shirt, if you're looking to take the jerkin off at any point.  It looks like you've got enough room in the one you put pictures up, that you could do a half-shirt as well, which would add more stability, since it's braced by your arms.  Just don't do full length arms for it... just having short sleeves would be enough, just to tuck around the shoulders.

Simplest thing, obviously, a traveller's cloak with a custom-modified hood to fit the eagle shape.  You get two effects in that case... the "creep out the bad guys" look, and the fluttering cloak like wings of said eagle.  Just something to consider.

Edit:  Oh, and no, I've no idea on the feasability of sewing any of that.  I can barely thread a needle without looking like a heroin addict afterwards... >.>
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 06:09:00 PM by RSLeask »
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Offline Squire_Kit

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Re: Custom Archer Costume - Need Help!
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2010, 01:11:33 PM »
Genievea - Thanks so much! I appreciate the compliment.

Niennis - Yeah, I was thinking about cloth mail when I saw that last photo. It's 100% linen, which was an interesting find considering most modern clothing is usually of a cotton/polyester blend or rayon.

RSLeask - Honestly, the piece I'm most concerned about is the shape of the hood. I drew the triangle-esque bottom portion after references I had seen. However, I'm thinking of making it into a sort of half shirt, or a bib. So you're on the right track! :)

(Oh and don't worry, I hear you on the non-sewing part. I can't sew to save my life. I've taken a few classes and courses in sewing and costuming. I'd have to stay for long hours after class just to get through what most students did in class. Even then it still wouldn't look right!)


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